By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Tuesday, January 23, 202
Slam streaks collide when Coco Gauff faces Aryna Sabalenka in the Australian Open semifinals.
US Open champion Gauff rides a 12-match major winning streak into this rematch of the US Open final.
Australian Open champion Sabalenka has rocketed through the draw soaring on a 12-match Melbourne Park winning streak.
Tennis is a numbers game, but Sabalenka is powered by a primal force in their rematch: revenge.
After sweeping 2021 Roland Garros singles and doubles champion Barbora Krejcikova 6-2, 6-3 to reach her sixth straight Slam semifinal, Sabalenka said she’s in a vendetta mood vs. Gauff.
“I love it. I love it,” Sabalenka said of her shot at Gauff. “After US Open, I really wanted that revenge, and, I mean, that’s a great match.
“It’s always great battles against Coco, with really great fights. I’m happy to play her, and I’m super excited to play that semifinal match.”
Four months ago, Gauff hit a backhand bolt sealing her maiden Grand Slam title with gripping 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 triumph over second-seeded Sabalenka in the US Open final.
A dynamic Gauff bounced back from a jittery opening set, slashing through five straight games to seize the second set and snatch a 4-0 lead in the third turning the largest Grand Slam stadium in the sport into a massive house party with more than 23,000 screaming fans relishing the ride.
This time, Gauff won’t have the pro-American crowd on her side; fans figure to be more evenly split.
Ahead of the blockbuster semifinal rematch, Sabalenka suggested she will try to be more patient constructing points knowing Gauff, the fastest woman in the game, can run down would-be winners and answer with counter-strikes.
“She’s moving really well. Everything you do on court it’s coming back,” Sabalenka said of Gauff. “So you need to build the point probably couple times in one point, like, to have that, not like easy shot, but, like — yeah, easy shot, you know, to finish the point.
“So that’s why she’s really tough opponent. Yeah, but anyway, yeah, she’s a great player, and I’m really excited to play her.”
The second-seeded Belarusian has had a smoother path to this semifinal.
Sabalenka has not surrendered a set and dropped just 16 total games becoming the first defending champion since Serena Williams in 2016 to reach the…